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#61 ppilot

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 11:50 PM

Anybody else have any recent experience here?  We just went tonight and had a really disappointing meal.

 

So I went with the Portland Dining Month menu and my fiance picked a variety of things off the happy hour and dinner menu. Here's the rundown:

 

Kimchi + Tons of Pickles - Enjoyed this for the most part as there was a good variety of pickled veggies and and white beech mushrooms.  The exception were the shitakes, which were so salty I couldn't actually tell I was eating a mushroom. Saltiness would be the theme of the night.

 

Fried eggplant, shrimp ball, sweet soy yuzu kosho aioli  - Not good.They were trying to go with the sweet/salty combination but the saltiness of shrimp ball completely overwhelmed everything.

 

Scallop Sashimi with den Miso, Yuzu kosho, and puffed rice. - My first piece had way too much sauce poured on it  and was so salty to the point I could couldn't taste any of the scallop. After removing almost all of the sauce, the scallop was [pretty good so with better plating and less sauce this would have been a good dish.

 

Fried kale, candied bacon, fish sauce, mint - Again waaay to much dressing/sauce as the bites with almost no sauce were actually pretty good and you get a pretty get amount of fried kale.  Unfortunately it was a 50/50 split with oversalted ones.  Even worse was the 1/2 inch of sauce at the bottom of the dish that made 1/4 of the salad completely inedible. At this point I started thinking maybe I was being too picky and tried eat as much as I could, but proceeded to almost completely kill my taste buds as my tongue felt burned due to insane levels of salt. I mentioned this to the waitress, but all I got was "This is good feedback for the kitchen" and not much of an apology. 

 

madai Sashimi. Aji Amarillo, green papaya, avocado, onion - Decent, fresh, clean tasting dish that could have a little less onion. Might have seemed better than it was due to the issues with some of the previous dishes.

 

Smoked potatoes, horseradish, egg, ginger, roe - Our second favorite dish of the night as the potatoes had a great flavor which worked well with the rest of the ingredients. At this point the roe barely seemed salty at all.

 

fried maitake mushrooms with arugula, sansho and Meyer lemon aioli - Our favorite dish of the night by a mile. The Mushrooms had a great flavor and offered just enough saltiness to balance out the sweetness of the meyer lemon aioli.  

 

chicken lollipops, sriracha mayo  - I thought this was decent as I liked the dipping sauce but the breading seemed oversalted.  Then again, my tastebuds where almost shot so I could have been imaging things.

 

handkerchief pasta with Sichuan pork ragu, pine nuts, gochujang, tarragon and scallions - Great flavors in this dish as I love Sichuan pepper, but again it seemed over-salted.

 

At the end of the meal, the fiance and I counted how much water we had chugged to compensate for the insanely oversalted food and we came up with almost 100oz.  I've had decent meals here in the past, but this was bad enough that I don't see us coming back. Thankfully our night ended on a much better note due to a visit to Pinolo.



#62 FoodKid

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 03:15 PM

According to Facebook, Smallwares is closing. Last day is September 24th.



#63 ricechaz

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 12:57 PM

Major bummer. One of our favorites in Portland. Love the Kale. Will be sorely missed. Will have to swing by before the 24th. My family is in depression. 


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#64 joburn

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 01:58 PM

We ate there last week and had a nice dinner, sorry to see it go.  One dish out of 5 was a little too salty, but also tasty; the rest were quite good and very unusual flavor combinations for sure.  Definitely goes for Big Flavors. 

 

The space was very large between bar and restaurant and they were pretty ambitious about things, especially the original lunch service in that part of town.  Sometimes it would be packed later in the evening and other times not busy at all.  Maybe it just didn't become a destination spot, and was too large for just a neighborhood place. 



#65 crepeguy

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 07:42 AM

I honestly think they didn't get the support of the neighborhood, and I'm not surprised that their busiest times were happy hour and Burger Week. Her concept may not have been a good fit, however, the whole expansion into the back room--and then the temporary Lil Wares concept didn't make sense either. She's obviously a gifted cook, but her food was, at times, uneven. I think her ego/ambition may have played a part. There are times you don't want to feel experimented on. The place could have also used a solid front of house manager.

 

One thing I can say is that she received a LOT of press over the past 4 years, but this is a small town, it's not NYC. There's another factor which may have played a part, she didn't have any ties to Portland. She didn't start with food cart nor did she work for an already known, established restaurant. Please correct me if I"m wrong, but I gather she worked for some known restaurants on the East Coast, but she had no connections here. Let's face it, Portland's a lot like high school, it's cliquey. 



#66 nate

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:59 AM

One thing I can say is that she received a LOT of press over the past 4 years, but this is a small town, it's not NYC. There's another factor which may have played a part, she didn't have any ties to Portland. She didn't start with food cart nor did she work for an already known, established restaurant. Please correct me if I"m wrong, but I gather she worked for some known restaurants on the East Coast, but she had no connections here. Let's face it, Portland's a lot like high school, it's cliquey. 

 

I think we food-dorks, especially those in the industry, think this matters a lot more than it does. Even among my most dedicated food-loving friends, when I say something like, "Oh I'd kinda like to check out John Gorham's new place," I am consistently met with blank stares, to say nothing of the reaction I get from,"Daniel Mondok is working at xxxxxx now; I better check it out before he leaves in a few months." I feel like I can virtually guarantee that the overwhelming majority of the food-enjoying consumers in this town have no idea where the chef came from, on the rare occasions they even know who she is.

 

Personally, the reason I never made it to Smallwares was entirely up to the location. It's located in a neighborhood not especially close to where I live that I never drove or rode through and there was nothing else around to make it any sort of a destination.



#67 ricechaz

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 12:34 PM

Agreed with the location critique. Not exactly easy to get to if you don't live in that neighborhood. 


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#68 crepeguy

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 02:15 PM

I think we food-dorks, especially those in the industry, think this matters a lot more than it does. Even among my most dedicated food-loving friends, when I say something like, "Oh I'd kinda like to check out John Gorham's new place," I am consistently met with blank stares, to say nothing of the reaction I get from,"Daniel Mondok is working at xxxxxx now; I better check it out before he leaves in a few months." I feel like I can virtually guarantee that the overwhelming majority of the food-enjoying consumers in this town have no idea where the chef came from, on the rare occasions they even know who she is.

 

Personally, the reason I never made it to Smallwares was entirely up to the location. It's located in a neighborhood not especially close to where I live that I never drove or rode through and there was nothing else around to make it any sort of a destination.

 

Your point is well taken on the "food-dorks" front. I should have been more specific; it's the local food media (along with Travel Portland) that put stock into a chef/owner's pedigree, not so much the general public. I think the general public is basically clueless about restaurants in general, except from what they read about in the local press. Food-nerds/dorks/geeks are more willing to dig a bit deeper into what makes a place tic: the chef's experience and so on. 

 

 

Agreed with the location critique. Not exactly easy to get to if you don't live in that neighborhood. 

 

This is true, their location is not that esaily accessible. But Pip's does a huge business with locals and out-of-towners alike (and that's during the day). 



#69 pwillen1

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 02:54 PM

The elephant in the room here is that the food wasn't universally liked. Read upthread and you'll see reviews all over the place.


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#70 StMaximo

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 03:55 PM

The elephant in the room here is that the food wasn't universally liked. Read upthread and you'll see reviews all over the place.

 

Exactly.

 

I really wanted to like this place. I ate at Smallwares three times. I never had a bad experience, but I never had an experience that made me want to rush back. The only time I saw the place packed was during burger week.

 

Another observation is that recently the neighborhood is in transition. Seems like the places that are doing the best are less upscale. Bang Bang, Batter, Griddle & Drinkery and Pips seem to be thriving with the support of a younger crowd and folks from out of the neighborhood. The older places in the neighborhood like Alameda Brewpub, Amalfi's, Stanich's and Noho's have more of neighborhood family feel and that seems to be the crowd.

 

Edit to add: Regarding the location - it's not any harder to access than Alberta or Division and there's more parking available.



#71 nervousxtian

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 06:50 PM

Well location isn't just about access.      Smallwares was more of a destination restaurant in a neighborhood location.         I'd put it's location in the same realm as Woodstock.    



#72 Flynn

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:59 PM

I'm bummed but not surprised. I hope Johanna does something else soon.



#73 portland native

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 07:39 AM

Does anyone know about the restaurant that is going into the former Smallwares space on Fremont?

 

Thanks. 



#74 crepeguy

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 03:00 AM

Does anyone know about the restaurant that is going into the former Smallwares space on Fremont?
 
Thanks. 


I guess it's going to be another southern brunch place:

http://star-news.inf...allwares-space/

#75 Angelhair

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Posted Today, 12:20 PM

I've been to the new Wares in the Zipper a couple of times now. My husband and I have taken to calling it Smaller Wares.

 

The kale is back and as a good as ever. Sichuan noodles (spicy salty sweet SO good). Aldo a chicken ramen, which is not traditional but delicious with a thick rich chicken broth and egg.